Is it just me, or has the radio industry depended as much on political advertising (the TV industry is just as guilty, in some respects) as the U.S. economy depends on OPEC to keep oil prices at a reasonable level?
It befuddles me that radio operators are worried because presidential politicking has not resulted in a major national media buy for the Mitt Romney campaign, or even resulted in an unleashing of spot radio dollars in key states and cities. Meanwhile, there seems to be happiness that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are poised to spend lots of money on advertising – which much of those dollars earmarked for radio.
While that’s a shot in the arm for radio, I liken it more to one of those Shot Bloks or Goos that marathoners consume when needing a quick fix of energy. The problem with Shot Bloks or Goos, though, is that if you don’t continue to consume them during your marathon, your energy levels will rapidly decline.
The same can be said about radio – except it is mired in a marathon that has no finish line. Can’t radio be a bit more creative and bring in ad dollars from a diverse portfolio of sectors? Does it need to be so dependent on political advertising, especially when it unfairly gives publicly traded companies bad quarters that they will have to explain to the investment community in footnotes?
This of course opens up a whole new topic of "Can Radio Save Itself?" With old-fashioned thinking of, "We need the political dollars!", the answer is "no."
For starters, how about making sure every one of your radio stations has audio streaming, a cool website that is updated daily, mobile technology from a company like Hip Cricket that can bring your station alive and put it everywhere and – most importantly – focus on "personality."
This means hiring personalities that are live and local, that can do remotes and become a friend to the listener. Or, if you have a host piped in from elsewhere, have a local component to the show that you can capitalize on and make the "local star."
It sickens me that companies such as Clear Channel continue to cut, cut, cut and at the same time seek profits, profits, profits. This is the dangerous mindset that has crippled America’s newspaper industry, and radio will be next if it doesn’t start thinking about tomorrow.
And tomorrow isn’t worrying about getting political ads.
Tomorrow is making sure auto dealers, packaged goods companies and wireless services provider still think you’re relevant.
Former Management/Marketing/Sales Editor, Radio and Records (2005-2006)